4G finally heading down the Tube in 2019

Transport for London to launch network tender next year following successful trial

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The London Underground is on track to finally get mobile coverage from 2019, following a successful trial over the summer.

Transport for London (TfL) said on Saturday that following the trial it plans to launch a network tender next year with a view to choosing a partner by the summer.

"We are on track to unlock one of the U.K.'s most high profile not-spots and deliver 4G mobile coverage throughout our tunnels and Tube stations. This is great news for our customers and will also help us generate vital commercial income to reinvest in modernising and improving transport in London," said Graeme Craig, TfL's director of commercial development, in a statement.

All four of the U.K.'s mobile operators participated in the trial, which saw network equipment installed in tunnels and stations on the Waterloo and City Line, which runs a direct service from Waterloo station on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, to Bank in the heart of the City of London.

TfL said the trial provided valuable insight into how to deploy network infrastructure more widely across the Tube network, including laying fibre cables at stations and along tunnels. Also during the trial, an uninterrupted data call was made during a journey from one end of the line to the other.

Tests were carried out during times when the line was closed to passengers.

"Trials such as these are vital in laying the foundations for customers, especially commuters, to have seamless connectivity on the go," said Derek McManus, CTO at O2 UK.

"We are delighted to have worked with Transport for London on this trial. Delivering 4G on the Tube will keep our customers connected while they are on the move," added Ker Anderson, head of Vodafone UK's London network.

In preparation for its tender, TfL in September surveyed service providers, receiving 22 replies. It will use this survey as the basis for developing its telecoms commercialisation strategy, which will in turn help to form the basis for its tender.